Google sets JotSpot free as Google Sites
Just a few days after opening up GrandCentral again, Google has now released a new version of the wiki-based group collaboration service JotSpot which is fully integrated with Google Sites. If you use Google for Domains, you can add this app to your services now.
I think the real interest here for Google is to get these collaborative tools into the commercial and educational organizations that are using Google Apps already. It’s interesting to note that there are a number of companies out there that are working on similar, wiki-style collaborative software products right now (such as Portland’s Jive). In some ways, too, as the Bits blog notes, this is a direct attack on Microsoft’s SharePoint as well.
After playing with Google Sites for a little while now, I have come away quite impressed with it. I didn’t use the old JotSpot, but looking at this version, I can see how I could use this for various projects.
Some of the actual integration between the different Google apps is a bit hidden behind the “Dashboard” template, where you can add Calendars, slideshows from Picasaweb, and Google Documents.
However, that integration still leaves a lot to be desired. Why, for example, do I have to copy and paste the URL for my calendar into the Calendar widget instead of just choosing a calendar I have set up in Google Docs already? And the same it true for all the other Google Apps – you always have to copy and paste a URL, which is just cumbersome. Once it is imported into the site though, the document and the site are completely in synch, as VentureBeat points out.
So overall, I think this is a very interesting product, I just wish it would be more tightly integrated with the rest of the Google Apps suite.
Update: for a different perspective, see Dennis Howlett’s review on ZDNet, who thinks Google Sites is substandard:
After 16 months at Google developer’s hands, the outcome is ubstandard. This is such a pity. In its JotSpot incarnation, it was far from perfect but that didn’t matter because JotSpot was shedding light on a new way of collaborating. Since passing into Google’s hands, the guts have been ripped out and then re-assembled with as much Google ’stuff’ as they could cram in but rushed to completion.